One trip, 7 days, 3 religions, 40 guests, all the ingredients for an interesting trip?!
Bosnia, Sarajevo: It’s where EYCE (Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe) and FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations) have decided to close their conference on intercultural and religious dialogue. The chosen theme was “Fundamentalist or Responsible Citizen?”
Sarajevo is one of the largest cities in the Balkans and its history has been particularly rich since its creation by the Ottomans in 1461. Thus, the choice of venue was not hazardous. This choice answered somehow the issue. What better place to talk about fundamentalism and civil responsibility than in Sarajevo?
Having participated in several seminars and conferences of this kind before, I had no real concerns about it. But it’s crazy how travel can amaze us and we learn more about ourselves than when we just stay in our own countries !
So the first few hours, you must learn to take your marks, introducing yourself to the other participants, creating a climate of confidence and reassurance. Then you have to try and understand every speech of the speakers while not forgetting to take a step back, to listen with a critical mind. Thus, little by little, you begin to feel at ease and let go to the game of debate, exchange and sharing.
So we quickly realized a lot of things. First, as Spinoza says: “Citizens are not born…but made”.
Aware that citizenship has to be built up, that it is one of the most important foundations of individual’s personality , we can infer “being a citizen is above all, being responsible”. You realize that your responsibility will be tested during the 7 days …
Initially, each participant comes in with questions and misconceptions about each other, which is absolutely normal. And then, through discussion, explanation, sharing, the prejudices fall apart, the answers are found to the questions and you start to see each other, differently.
And then we try and understand the differences. Through the act of attending daily prayers, respect the others way of dressing, to enjoy and share others culture, try to speak their language. In brief, put yourself in the others’ shoes for a while and try to live and feel what he/she feels through his/her presence.
Beyond the theoretical explanations, nothing beats the personal experience for a more comprehensive understanding, with few lines:
I loved the songs quantum Christians sang in the dark with the only light being the candles placed on the ground.
I would keep in mind, my first visit synagogue and the simplicity of the place where we were welcomed.
I appreciated all the small moments exchanged with my Romanian friends, not forgetting their unique French accent.
I was exhilarated by the debate on the cartoons, with the Danes, Berek around a Bosnian.
I loved the intelligent discussion and continuous exchange of views on the issue of Sufism, hot chocolate and coffee in hand.
I was touched by the visit of the cemetery of martyrs and the discussions I had with the Bosnian people and students about the situation in their country.
I loved the post-it’s stuck to describe my mood that day and discuss what had me upset or rather what I enjoyed during my day with the rest of the participants.
Simple moments, almost magical that make you appreciate the importance of your responsibility in building up the world of tomorrow.
Human experience, wonderful and magical!